*C 33 1M4
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
[DIVISION OF AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION
HOME DEMONSTRATION AGENTS
OFFICE OF THE STATE LEADER
COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE
Prepared by R. B. EASSON
Trapnesting and scientific breeding are more reliable and much more far reaching in results than judging
the productive ability of fowls by means of body characteristics such as conformation, pigment color tests, etc.
These latter tests, however, which are visible or can be determined by handling, are fairly accurate during
certain seasons of the year, and therefore aid the commercial poultryman and farm flock owner in culling the
low producers and indicating the better producers that are to be kept as layers or breeders for the following
The culling out of the unprofitable layers will increase the average productiveness of the flock and lower
the feed bill. The use of the best layers as breeding stock will aid in building up the laying qualities of the
offspring, especially if males out of high producing females are mated to these better layers.
WHEN TO CULL
The general management, and the use of electric lights especially, will influence the time of culling. As
a general rule, flocks should be gradually culled beginning with the decrease of egg production (May and
June) and heavily culled during July and August. For the selection of breeders to be used the following season
an additional separation can be made even later.
Practical culling will give best results by using a combination of tests to eliminate the poor producers
rather than using one test alone.
Molting. The molting of a fowl before September 1st is fv (5ne indication of a poor layer. These poor pro-
ducers in the flock molt early and slowly and do not produce as many eggs as generally supposed during the
fall and winter months. The majority of their eggs are produced during the spring months. The better pro-
ducers lay late and hence molt late (see PI. II) and fast. Cull the early molters in July and August.
Pigment Color Changes. With the yellow shanked varieties the amount of coloring material in shanks,
beaks, earlobes, and skin (especially at the vent) is a fairly accurate guide to the laying ability of different
fowls of the same flock. The amount of yellow coloring material contained in the ration fed may effect the
The catching coop permits the convenient handling of the flock at
all times. It is especially useful during the culling season.
PLATE I. The early molter decreases the average egg yield of the flock and increases the cost of pro-
duction. Hens molting in June, July, and August should be culled heavily and replaced with pullets from
good breeding stock.
CHARACTERISTICS OF CULLS
6. Yellow skin.
7. Non-flexible pelvic bones.
8. Shriveled up comb-
9. Small body capacity.
10. Poor condition.
PLATE II. This hen produced 297 eggs at the Santa Cruz egg laying contest for the year ending No-
vember 15, 1920. She molted December 10, 1920, and was back to production January 20, 1921. The type
to keep as layer or breeder.
CHARACTERISTICS OF PRODUCERS
, 6. Pale skin.
7. Flexible pelvic bones.
8. Comb red, full and waxy.
9. Good body cpacity.
10. Good condition.
rate of change from yellow to paleness. The yellow color is withdrawn from the body as production increases
and gradually returns with the molt when few eggs are laid. The use of the pigment color test is of most valuerv.
during June, July, and August. The early molters of a flock with yellow coloring in shanks, beak, earlobes,
and skin after July ist are usually culls.
Body Capacity. The distance between the end of keel bone and ends of pelvic bones is a measurement
of abdominal capacity. The laying hen must have a good sized abdomen in which to digest feed and manu-
facture eggs. In the good layer the abdomen should be full, soft, and flexible. During the summer months
fowls measuring less than three fingers between these points are usually culls, as shown by other indications.
Pelvic Bones. Pelvic bones should be thin, straight, and flexible. They tend to thicken on the ends as
the hen gets older. The cull generally has pelvic bones which are thick, near together, and not flexible as in
the good layers.
Comb and Wattles. The size of the comb, in relation to the size for that breed, is correlated with the
hen's laying ability. The comb and wattles of a good layer are red, full, and waxy. In the poor layers these
are shriveled and scaly. (Pis. I and II.)
The use of colored leg bands (see PI. II) to identify those pullets that are early maturing and winter egg
producers will prove valuable during the culling period. A large percentage of these early maturing pullets
will be late molters the following year, one indication of high yearly production, and therefore the type to
keep for layers or breeders the following year.
HOW TO CULL
The Catching Coop. This coop is a very convenient appliance and useful throughout the year either for
sorting, transferring fowls between pens and houses, or culling. The front end of the coop is pushed tightly
against the house exit, a coopful of fowls run in and the sliding door closed. The fowls can be taken out through
one of the top doors and examined individually. A convenient size for such a coop is 5 feet long, 2 feet wide.
i% feet in height.
Body capacity as indicated by abdominal measurement between the keel and
pelvic bones. (Left The laying hen with full, soft, and flexible abdomen measur-
ing four fingers. (Right) The cull with contracted and hard abdomen measuring
Gay lord Bros.
Syracuse, N. Y.